Thursday, April 19, 2018

Friday Trauma into Easter Joy

Jesus told them that this would happen.
Three different times he told them that he would die and rise again.
Not only that but our Gospel for this morning happens after Jesus had a appeared to the women at the tomb, the two disciples on the road to Damascus, and Peter.
Why don't they understand what is happening?
Why don't they believe that it is Jesus who is alive?
Because it is our natural position not to trust.
We always doubt first.
Because of this we go into any situation with preconceived notions about how things are suppose to go.
We learn to not trust things pretty early on.

Sam Hartung, a youth  from our congregation, helped me this week with this sermon.
He told me that past trauma's stop us from believing in things.
We have all had that moment in our lives when something happens to us that makes us less trusting of the world.
We have all had that moment when we realized that the world doesn't always work out the way we want it to.
And from that moment on we are less likely to trust things.
We are less likely to trust that things can work out, and can go our way.
Maybe it was the first time you realized that your parents aren't perfect, and have just as many flaws as anyone else.
Maybe it is when a friend says they will do something, but they don't come through.
Maybe it is when you try really hard at something only to fail anyway.
Maybe it was more traumatic than that.

If we think about it the disciples had just lived through the trauma of Jesus dying on a cross.
They thought he would be the one to restore Israel.
He would be the one that would make things right this time.
Only to live through the trauma of watching all of their hopes and dreams die on a cross.
They were thwarted again.
No wonder they don't believe that it is Jesus standing amongst them.

No wonder we don't believe it either.
We have been disappointed many times.
We have prayed prayers that seemed to go answered.
We have had dreams that have gone unfulfilled.
We have been let down lots of times.
We have experienced the trauma of Good Friday, no wonder we are having trouble believing in the resurrection of Easter.

I have been to, or presided at, five funerals since Palm Sunday.
That is five funerals in three weeks.
Some of them we have been at together.
Some of them were of friends or colleagues.
Some of them were for relatives of members of our congregation.
Here is something that you might not believe but they have all been uplifting.
All of those funerals have helped my faith.
Standing among three hundred Lutherans or Methodists singing is an amazing thing.
Listening to sisters, sons, daughters, or friends of the deceased tell about how that person impacted their life, and gave of themselves for them is inspirational.
Hearing sermons from preachers about the promises of God, about the centrality of our faith.
It has been inspiring to be a part of.
It has made me laugh at times, and cry.
But it has been faith filled.
I have felt in all those funerals the power of God, the strength that our faith brings us in those times.

I am not suggesting that death is not sad, or traumatic, because of course it is.
But in a funeral you experience how God takes this traumatic moment of death and transforms it into a life giving moment of faith.
You see and hear and sing in those moments what our faith is all about death and resurrection.
Someone we loved died, but here we are together, and we sing, laugh, and cry together.
We remember the person and God makes something more out of it.

And this is what is so powerful about God.
Is that God transforms our wounds, our traumas, into something beautiful.
God doesn't get rid of the trauma.
Trauma is a part of life.
It is part of being human.
People let us down, life doesn't always work out.
People die, love hurts.
But trauma can be transformed.
What was dead is alive.
Forgiveness is real.
We can be at a funeral and laugh together at something that happened in life.
We can sing past death into a whole new realm of existence.
Coming together makes that possible, faith makes that possible.

I have always wondered why Jesus shows up with his scars?
I would have thought that they would have gone away.
I think this because when we talk about heaven that is how we think of ourselves.
When I get to heaven I will get the best version of my body.
Somewhere between 18 and 21.
I will be young and fit, I will be without scars.
But Jesus has his scars.
He shows them to the disciples.
It is the only way they know him.
Perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to want to do away with our scars.
Perhaps it is the scars that makes us who we are.
It is in the trauma's of life that God makes us who we are.
It is in the trauma's that God transforms us.
It was in this great trauma that God transformed the world.
When before there was only death and sin, now there is life and love.
That is the message of the resurrection.
Things don't have to stay one way.
Our trauma is not the end of the story.
God can transform it so that we can believe in the resurrection of life, the forgiveness of sins, and the company of the saints.

Someone posted this quote, from author AnneLamott, on Facebook this week.
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved.
But this is also the good news.
They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up.
And you come through.
It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly – that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
That truth speaks to what God does with our trauma.
God transforms it into good news, into life, into singing and laughing.

Maybe our first reaction is not to trust.
We have good reason not to.
Our past trauma's forge in us preconceived notions about the world and ourselves.
But faith in God helps us sing in the midst of sadness.
Faith in God helps us celebrate a well lived life.
Faith in God transforms our traumas of Friday into the joy of Easter.
May you all have a week filled with transforming your traumas into the joy of Easter.

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